ESL debating lessons

Debates in your ESL lessons can be a fantastic way to get your students speaking in an extended way. It also gives your students an ideal platform to give their opinions on a range of topics and interact with each other and you, the English teacher. Debating language is very useful for adult students to learn and can be used again and again in discussion when using English.

In this ESL movie lesson, you'll be showing your students clips from the movie The Great Debators, starring and directed by Denzel Washington. In The Great Debators, Washington stars in the true story of a motivational teacher at an American College for black only students from whom he forms a debate team to take on the nation's finest debating team, Harvard University. 

In this lesson, your students will be hearing authentic debating language and practicing giving opinions using English. Included in the free ESL debating language lesson plan is a list of topics and discussion questions aimed at varying levels of English students from Pre-Intermediate through to Advanced. 

Debating Language for ESL Students
 
In my opinion...
As far as I'm concerned...
I strongly believe that...
If it were up to me...
I'm convinced that...
I think...
The way I see it...
I'd like to...
It is fairly certain that...
Without a doubt...
I suspect that...
I honestly feel that…

Download the movie lesson below for the ESL debating lesson, along with over 50 different debating topics and ESL debating questions.


by Stuart Allen
 
Published in Movie lessons
It was a day that changed the world forever, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 on the World Trade Centre changed how we live or lives today and travel. Anyone old enough to have been around on that fateful day on September 1th 2001 will almost certainly remember where they were and how they felt when they heard the news that two passenger planes had purposely been flown into both towers of the World Trade Centre, New York, causing the deaths of thousands of innocent lives and billions of dollars in damage.


This ESL News lesson will be very interesting to English students and they'll certainly have opinions to share about this topic. 

There are a number of reading comprehension exercises to do in this class, perfect for intermediate and advanced students, those preparing for IELTS exams, or university / adult students. 

by Stuart Allen
Published in News lesson plans
In 1986, scientists were carrying out safety checks at the nuclear power station in Chernobyl, Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union). There was an unforeseen power spike sending readings dangerously high. Minutes later, the heat inside the nuclear reactor had become so hot that the cooling rods designed to cool the reactor to safe levels had buckled and could not drop into place. From that moment, the reactor was doomed and there was a catastrophic explosion which blew off the roof of the reactor and caused radiation to be blown high into the air and the surrounding countryside. The Chernobyl Disaster is still the world's worst nuclear disaster.

The aims of this English News Lesson about Chernobyl are:

To read an authentic news article in English and improve their reading skills (e.g. reading for gist, reading for information) 

To acquire new vocabulary in a natural way (i.e. through reading a news article like we do in our native language) 
 
To have a discussion about peace in order for students to practice reasoning skills and to make them think

by Phil Senior
 
Published in News lesson plans
Tuesday, 09 February 2016 07:10

ESL News Lesson: The Peace Index

Each year, The Instutute of Economics and Peace publishes its Global Peace Index which measures how peaceful countries are around the world and the changes in peace between regions and countries. Many factors are taken into account when the peace rankings are made.

This News English lesson plan has a number of English teaching activities which centre around an article about the peace index. Students discuss which countries they think are the most and least peaceful and why they think this. Students should also match the countries which appear in the article to which continent they lie in.

There are also additional scanning and skimming activities, good for IELTS reading practice and finally a class brainstorming activity. The ability to discuss current affairs is an important element in getting a higher score in the IELTS speaking component.

Written by Phil Senior
Published in News lesson plans
Every year, millions of Chinese students face the biggest challenge of their young lives by taking on the Gaokao exam - China's be-and-end-all test to see which students can enter which university. Failure in this exam can be disaster for the dreams of many young Chinese people and they will endure many sleepless nights revising for the exam and worrying about if they will pass it.

This ESL News lesson looks at the exam in a slightly different way in that the pressure to succeed and do well in this exam is so great, that a few people will try to cheat their way to sucess in the exam.

This News English lesson will be very relevant and interesting to students, especially in China. 

There are a number of different activities for your students to do, including colloquation activites, debate and discussion activities and other comprehension excercises. This will also be good for students in later middle school, high school, university or in preparation for an IELTS or TOEFL exam.

by Phil Senior
Published in News lesson plans
Nelson Mandela was born in South Africa in 1918 and became a leader among his own people in the 1960's during the time of unjust oppression against blacks in South Africa. In the late 1940's, he helped form the ANC Youth League and during the 1950's increasingly became more involved in politics and advocating civil disobedience against the racist apartheid government. In 1963, he was imprisoned on Robben Island and spent the next 27 years in prison. 

Following growing international pressure against apartheid, the system of segregation because of colour, the South African government began to free political prisoners and Mandela was historically released from prison in 1990


In this ESL news lesson, students will learn about the life of Nelson Mandela, his release from prison watched by millions around the world, and read his history making speech.

There are three activities for your students to do. There is a vocabulary match exercise where students must match vocabulary with meanings. The second activity has reading comprehension questons for the reader and finally, there is a team quiz activity for larger English classes. 

by Stuart Allen
Stuart Allen
Published in News lesson plans
In a sleepy little Oregon town, a kid is being beaten up by the school bully. When he confesses to his big brother that he is being bullied, his big brother invents a plan which will end up with big humiliation for the school bully, George.

They all plan a boating trip and invite the school bully along. The boy being bullied, Sam, realised that George is actually OK and just craves some love and attention in his life, but by then it's too late and things start to go horribly wrong.

Mean Creek is an excellent film and won the 2004 Best Film Award at The Cannes Film Festival. At that time I was teaching the Second Conditional to older teenage students and realised that there were so many moments during the film when I thought "What would I do here?" I wrote this lesson on the Second Conditional and it worked well. You can download this movie lesson on the Second Conditional below.

To order Mean Creek via Amazon plea click here - you'll be helping us out also.




Grammar Guide for Second Conditional Tense

The second conditional is used for talking about unreal situations in the present or in the future. The second conditional is built up of two parts, known as a clause. One part, or clause, contains if, and the other part contains would.
 
"If I had lots of money, I would buy a car..."
 
You can also switch the clauses; it doesn’t matter, because it means the same thing! It’s just a different way of saying it! Have a try!
 
"I would buy a car if I had lots of money."
            
Look carefully! Notice how there is a comma (,) after the if clause at the top, but not at the bottom? When the if clause goes first, you must use a comma. When the main clause goes first, don’t use a comma…easy!

Before Doing This Class
 
Before you do anything, please watch the film at home in its entirety before making a choice whether to show this in class. It is not suitable for all and should only be used with mature, open-minded students.
 
Before you start the film, make sure that your class understand the second conditional and its purpose. This plan is designed to review the structure and to get your actually using it in an interesting way. The student guide on page three of this plan will help to explain it in a simple way.

Using Mean Creek to Practice Second Conditional
 
Get your students comfortable…its movie time! Play the selected clips. As you play the film, you will suddenly stop the film and ask students what they would do in that situation. All the ‘film stop’ timings are labelled below, along with the questions you should ask your students. There are 23 ‘what would you do?’ questions in total. Make sure to give every one a go!
 
Practice stopping the DVD in the suggested parts before class.

The 23 Second Condional Questions You Can Ask Your Class

1.   You have just been beaten up in front of lots of people. What would you do? 2:38mins
(Example answer: "if I had been beaten up in front of lots of people, I would hit him back).
2.   Marty, the gang leader, offers you a marijuana joint. What would you do? 9:09mins
3.   Your brother has just hurt and humiliated you. You have a bat. What would you do? 13:57mins
4.   George, who beat you up earlier in the week, has bought you a present and wants you to open it. What would you do? 18:13mins
5. There is a plan to make George cry. You have just heard about it. What would you do? 25:27mins
6. You are new to the gang and want to make friends. You don’t smoke, but Marty offers you a cigarette. What would you do? 26:46mins
7. You are 13 years old and Marty offers you a beer. Your parents aren’t there. What would you do? 32:40mins
8. You are already drinking beer, but your parents will never know. Marty offers you weed. What would you do? 33:07mins
9. You are trying to talk Marty out of getting George. What would you do? 36:52mins
10. George has just fired the water gun at you. What would you do? 40:00mins
11. You are 13 years old and in front of lots of older kids and they have dared you to French kiss. What would you do? 42:00mins
12. Marty wants George to take off his clothes and jump in the river. You don’t want this to happen, but Marty is bigger than you. What would you do? 45:20mins
13.  You are George. You have just found out that you were only invited because they want to play a joke on you. What would you do? 45:53mins
14. You are Marty. George is talking about your father’s suicide over and over and over. What would you do? 48:52mins
15. George is drowning, but his size makes it dangerous to jump in and save him. What would you do? 49:33mins
16. George is not breathing. What would you do? 51:29mins
17. People are now starting to make a story to tell the police. What would you do? 58:16mins
18. Marty wants to bury the body. What would you do? 59:08mins
19. You are Marty, everyone is against you. What would you do? 1:00:24mins
20. The others have agreed to bury the body, but you think it is a bad idea. What would you do? 1:03:11mins
21. You are Marty. The others want to go to the police, but you have already buried the body. What would you do? 1:17:06mins
22. You are Rocky. Your best friend, Marty, is walking away. What would you do? 1:18:58mins
23. You are the policeman. What would you do? 1:22:55mins
 
Lesson Written by Stuart Allen
Published in Movie lessons
Made in Britain stars Tim Roth in one of his first roles as Trevor, a teen delinquent who hates authority and refuses to conforn to what society wants or expects. Trevor is actually very intelligent, but has become disillusioned by modern 1980's Britain and the education system. He has been convicted of stealing, taking drugs, shopplifting, vandalism and violent behaviour. He has become criminal and a racist, and prison beckons if he does not change his ways. This lesson is only suitable for adults.

For this lesson, you'll need the Made in Britain DVD. In ordering this, you'll also be helping us.




Warning!
This film is for adult students ONLY! Under no circumstances should this film be shown to minors. The film shows scenes of violence and extreme racist views. The lesson plan should only be used with mature, open-minded students, who feel comfortable watching and discussing such content in an open class environment.  The use of this lesson plan is wholly at the discretion of the teacher. It is essential that the teacher watches the suggested film clips in their entirety before choosing whether or whether not to use this plan. 

ESL Adults discussion questions on teenage crime and delinquency

Show the film clips first before having the discussion. Make sure to lead-in to the activity in your own way first.


Are parents to blame for juvenile delinquency?
Should children who hate going to school be given something else to do?
Is corporal punishment a good idea for naughty children?
Should naughty children be rewarded for good behaviour with money instead of punished for bad behaviour?
Should parents of juvenile delinquents be sent to prison when their children misbehave?
How would you deal with Trevor? What is his 
future?
What kind of problems do the young have in your country?
How does your country deal with juvenile delinquency? Do you think it is a good system?
If you were in your country’s government, what would you do differently?
Will juvenile delinquency ever go away? Why/why not?
What is the cure to juvenile delinquency?
 
 
_______________________________________________________
Clip One (Start to 4:30mins)
The film starts with Trevor in court being convicted for a racist attack on an Asian man’s home. He is sent to a detention centre for children.
Clip Two (6:37mins to13:25mins)
Trevor arrives at the detention centre and is told about a contract he must sign to promise to behave. He pesters a staff member there to give him some money and goes out to the job centre. On the way, he steals a car and buys glue to sniff and get high. He abuses the job centre staff and throws a paving slab through the window.
Clip Three (18:02mins to 38:34mins)
The detention centre find out about the stolen car and refuse him lunch. He attacks the cook at the canteen for not serving him lunch. The centre workers lock him in a room to calm down and then a senior staff member come to look at his future. This scene is key for your class discussion! It is the foundation for your discussion. Stop the film and turn off the TV at “Yeah, he’s a waste of time”.

Lesson written by Stuart Allen
 
Published in Movie lessons
Lost was an HBO smash hit about a plane which crashes onto a deserted island thousands of miles from anywhere and the world believes the plane lost. In reality, many of the passengers are still very much alive. Lost continued for many years.

This is a supplementary activity for intermediate or advanced students who want to learn a few verbs in present continuous form which they may not have come across before. Advanced level students are always eager to come across new words and this is an exciting way to teach them something different.

To run this high-level present continuous TV lesson, you'll need the first episode of Lost Season 1 of Lost S01E01 - you can download this here. 

 
Preparation: 
Before class, you should print out the jigsaw puzzle containing the words on page 3. You need to arrange your students into groups of three; you should make one copy per group. Cut up the puzzle pieces using scissors or a craft knife and paper clip the pieces together. Each group of three will now have a neat bundle of puzzle pieces. Remember to shuffle up each group’s pieces before you paperclip them together! (Tip: white card is better than white paper.)
In class:
Play the first episode of Lost (season one), where the plane crashes onto a desert island and everyone is in a state of panic and shock. Groups need to watch the movie and put the puzzle pieces into a pile in the order that they see the action. When the movie clip has finished, the students should put the pieces together from left to right, then right to left, then left to right, then right to left (as shown on page 4). If they have got the order right, then the puzzle should fit neatly together.
You should play the episode from the very start until 15:16mins. You might want to play the clip twice if your students need to see it again. 
Have fun! 
 
Published in Movie lessons
Lord of the Flies was a brilliant novel about a group of boys stranded on an island after their plane crashes on a school trip. All the adults are killed in the crash, leaving the large group of boys to survive and fend for themselves. Divisions soon appear in the group, leadership battles ensue and the film looks at our natural dark natures.

This movie lesson for teaching English is for Interediate/Advanced level mature students and has six different activities for you to use in classes. It will require your ESL students to think outside of the box and look critically at the scenes and language. Lord of the Flies is a GCSE text in British schools.

For this Lord of the Flies ESL movie lesson, you'll need the movie - you can get that here. You'll be helping us out too.







Lord of the Flies Classroom Activities

1. Discussion about Lord of the Flies and why the boys turned that way. Discussion lead questions are included in the free Lord of the Flies lesson plan PDF below.

2. Symbolism - what do different things represent in the film? For example, the conch, the logs, Piggy's glasses, etc. 

3. Students roleplay different parts in the story

4. Homework essay about what students feel about the film

5. Students roleplay an alternative ending to the film - what might have happened?

6. At the end of the film the police arrive (sorry, spoiler!), and it's clear that many of the boys are in trouble. Students roleplay possible police interviews and write police questions.

Lesson written by Stuart Allen



Published in Movie lessons
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